Daily Archive: October 9, 2012

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Muppets and Money

Super-Rich Irony

Why do billionaires feel victimized by Obama?

by Chrystia Freeland, The New Yorker

October 8, 2012

One night last May, some twenty financiers and politicians met for dinner in the Tuscany private dining room at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. The eight-course meal included blinis with caviar; a fennel, grapefruit, and pomegranate salad; cocoa-encrusted beef tenderloin; and blue-cheese panna cotta. The richest man in the room was Leon Cooperman, a Bronx-born, sixty-nine-year-old billionaire. Cooperman is the founder of a hedge fund called Omega Advisors, but he has gained notice beyond Wall Street over the past year for his outspoken criticism of President Obama. Cooperman formalized his critique in a letter to the President late last year which was widely circulated in the business community; in an interview and in a speech, he has gone so far as to draw a parallel between Obama’s election and the rise of the Third Reich.



In the letter, Cooperman argued that Obama has needlessly antagonized the rich by making comments that are hostile to economic success. The prose, rife with compound metaphors and righteous indignation, is a good reflection of Cooperman’s table talk. “The divisive, polarizing tone of your rhetoric is cleaving a widening gulf, at this point as much visceral as philosophical, between the downtrodden and those best positioned to help them,” Cooperman wrote. “It is a gulf that is at once counterproductive and freighted with dangerous historical precedents.”



The growing antagonism of the super-wealthy toward Obama can seem mystifying, since Obama has served the rich quite well. His Administration supported the seven-hundred-billion-dollar TARP rescue package for Wall Street, and resisted calls from the Nobel Prize winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, and others on the left, to nationalize the big banks in exchange for that largesse. At the end of September, the S. & P. 500, the benchmark U.S. stock index, had rebounded to just 6.9 per cent below its all-time pre-crisis high, on October 9, 2007. The economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty have found that ninety-three per cent of the gains during the 2009-10 recovery went to the top one per cent of earners. Those seated around the table at dinner with Al Gore had done even better: the top 0.01 per cent captured thirty-seven per cent of the total recovery pie, with a rebound in their incomes of more than twenty per cent, which amounted to an additional $4.2 million each.



This is the group that has benefitted most from the winner-take-all economy: the 0.1 per cent, whose share of the national income was 7.8 per cent in 2009, according to I.R.S. data. Moreover, even as the shifting tides of the global economy have rewarded the richest while squeezing the middle class, the U.S. tax system has favored the very top, as the tax returns of the Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, have illustrated. In 2011, Romney paid an effective tax rate of just 14.1 per cent, and his income of $13.7 million places him in the 0.01-per-cent group.



The President, in Cooperman’s view, draws political support from those who are dependent on government. Last October, in a question-and-answer session at a Thomson Reuters event, Cooperman said, “Our problem, frankly, is as long as the President remains anti-wealth, anti-business, anti-energy, anti-private-aviation, he will never get the business community behind him. The problem and the complication is the forty or fifty per cent of the country on the dole that support him.”



“It’s a question of tone,” Cooperman said. “The President makes it sound like the problems of the ninety-nine per cent are caused by the one per cent, and that’s not the case.” Yet some of the harshest language of this election cycle has come from the super-rich. Comparing Hitler and Obama, as Cooperman did last year at the CNBC conference, is something of a meme. In 2010, the private-equity billionaire Stephen Schwarzman, of the Blackstone Group, compared the President’s as yet unsuccessful effort to eliminate some of the preferential tax treatment his sector receives to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. After Cooperman made his Hitler comment, he has said, his wife called him a “schmuck.” But he couldn’t resist repeating the analogy when we spoke in May of this year. “You know, the largest and greatest country in the free world put a forty-seven-year-old guy that never worked a day in his life and made him in charge of the free world,” Cooperman said. “Not totally different from taking Adolf Hitler in Germany and making him in charge of Germany because people were economically dissatisfied. Now, Obama’s not Hitler. I don’t even mean to say anything like that. But it is a question that the dissatisfaction of the populace was so great that they were willing to take a chance on an untested individual.”

$4.2 million each.  Why that’s your Sesame Street Workshop right there.

You wouldn’t want to blend in with ‘ordinary’ things.

A Breath Of Fresh Air.

That whooshing sound you heard, after the first presidential debate on Wednesday night, was the collective exhalation of the breath of every Patriot Tea Party member in the nation. We’d all hoped that Mitt Romney would at least hold his own with the ‘Anointed One’, whose brilliance, we had been assured by the Lame Stream Press, eclipsed that of all mortal men.

To my absolute delight, after the first few minutes, it became readily apparent that Mitt Romney not only had the effrontery to challenge the media messiah… he neatly filleted him… in a gentlemanly sort of way. It’s what we didn’t see that enthused me the most. We didn’t see the ‘milquetoast’ Romney that the leftover hacks from the Bushees have tried to create. “Oh”(wringing of hands),”don’t attack Obama, you’ll be seen as racist”. “You’ll offend the minority vote”. “Ooh, don’t do that, you’ll lose the women’s vote”. ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that’… and we saw the results of that kind of thinking all over the John McCain disaster in 2008.

I’ll have to admit that I feared that Romney wouldn’t come out swinging. I was delighted to see that I was wrong. Some conservatives were grousing that Mitt ‘didn’t do this and didn’t do that’… but what was overwhelmingly apparent was that he did plenty enough to destroy Obama’s worn-out commie blather. It wasn’t even close.

What was most telling to me was that when the debate started, I was listening to it on the radio (since I was doing work on the computer), then when I did switch over to visual… the contrast was striking… MaoBama clearly out of his element. No bought-and-paid-for audience of witless college students or union goons. No adoring crowds of welfare recipients. He looked like a defeated man. Could Romney have hit him harder? Sure he could. But I think he hit just the right tone for this debate.

MaoBama will not be caught out quite this unprepared again. But he is, as has been pointed out, lazy. He’s been pampered and sheltered all of his private and public life. What he’s trying to sell is a lie. Obama is the penultimate result of the Marxist movement in this country. He is their golden boy. But what he’s selling is evaporating like swamp gas before the march of reality.

It’s taken four long years for the blinders to come off of the American people. I’ve talked to a number of disillusioned people who supported Obama… whether to expiate the self-inflicted mythic ‘white guilt’, or because they were sick to death of the antics of a Republican government who behaved exactly as the Democrats they claimed to oppose. It’s tough to admit that you were taken in… sort of like being suckered by a carney hustler.

I have many friends who would be classified as ‘minorities’ (at least by the DeMarxists, because they see everyone as a sub-classification). They, however, don’t see themselves that way and neither do I. We are Americans first, last and foremost. That’s the last thing that MaoBama and the DeMarxists want to see… a unified and purposeful patriotic electorate. But that’s exactly what they are going to see in November.

Cartnoon

Nosferatu.  Originally posted June 29, 2011

Lumberjack Rabbit

On This Day In History October 9

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 9 is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 113 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, Congress renames the nation “United States of America”.

On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress formally declares the name of the new nation to be the “United States” of America. This replaced the term “United Colonies,” which had been in general use.

In the Congressional declaration dated September 9, 1776, the delegates wrote, “That in all continental commissions, and other instruments, where, heretofore, the words ‘United Colonies’ have been used, the stile be altered for the future to the “United States.”

The Lee Resolution, also known as the resolution of independence, was an act of the Second Continental Congress declaring the United Colonies to be independent of the British Empire. First proposed on June 7, 1776, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, after receiving instructions from the Virginia Convention and its President, Edmund Pendleton  (in fact Lee used, almost verbatim, the language from the instructions in his resolution). Voting on the resolution was delayed for several weeks while support for independence was consolidated. On June 11, a Committee of Five  was appointed to prepare a document to explain the reasons for independence. The resolution was finally approved on July 2, 1776, and news of its adoption was published that evening in the Pennsylvania Evening Post and the next day in the Pennsylvania Gazette. The text of the document formally announcing this action, the United States Declaration of Independence, was approved on July 4.

Muse in the Morning

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Art Glass 38

Open Debate: Romney’s Tax Plan

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This weekend on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes Nobel Prize winning economist Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz and Avik Roy, an adviser to Presidential Republican nominee Mitt Romney, debate the nominee’s tax plan and its impact on Americans.

In the second segment, Prof. Stiglitz and Mr. Roy try to outline what is known about Mr. Romney’s tax plan and whether he would be able to implement the plan if elected president.